Friday, December 17, 2004

U.S. Diplomat starts pissing contest with Castro; loses

"HAVANA - Cuba retaliated for the U.S. diplomatic mission's Christmas display supporting Cuban dissidents by putting up a billboard Friday emblazoned with photographs of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners and a huge swastika overlaid with a 'Made in the U.S.A' stamp.

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AP Photo

AFP Photo
AFP





The billboard, erected overnight facing the U.S. Interest Section's offices, stands on the Malecon, Havana's famed coastal highway.

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The U.S. mission, headed by James Cason, rejected a demand this week to remove Christmas decorations that included a reference to dissidents jailed by Fidel Castro (news - web sites)'s government.

The trimmings included a Santa Claus, candy canes and white lights wrapped around palm trees — and a sign reading '75,' a reference to the 75 Cuban dissidents jailed last year.

Parliament Speaker Ricardo Alarcon called the display 'rubbish' on Wednesday and said Cason seemed 'desperate to create problems.' No other Cuban officials have commented.

Wayne Smith, who headed the U.S. mission here during the Carter and Reagan administrations and has long advocated restoring normal diplomatic relations with Cuba, said he thought the images of prisoner abuse in Iraq were an appropriate response by Castro's regime.

'If I were in their shoes, this is what I would do — call attention to the fact that the United States is now guilty of torture, of massive violations of human rights,' Smith said by telephone from Washington.

'Yes, I'd like to see the 75 all released, but we're in no position now to criticize anyone,' he said."

This is so aggravating on so many levels that I can't even count them. It elegantly embodies the administration's whole approach to foriegn policy: (1) Initiate stupid, senseless act of bullying just because you can; (2) fuck it up. Lest you suggest that this is some principled stand by the Bushistas to advocate for human rights around the world, I would ask you when the U.S. ambassadors to China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and countless other nations around the world will be putting up their ostentatious displays protesting their hosts' miserable human rights records. No, this is a juvenile act of dick-swinging by a man who clearly missed a lot of days at Diplomat School, and who seems better suited to be the mayor or sheriff of a small town in an insignificant banana republic.


It also annoys me because it sorely tempts me to give an approving nod to Uncle Fidel for his response. Don't get me wrong; it's just my affection for the underdog. I don't think much at all of Castro, whose ego, cruel streak and capacity for mismanagement rivals that of...of...oh, I dunno, Donald Trump? Sure, Cason served up a batting-practice fastball here, but Castro did swing for the fences and he did put it out. I myself would have gone with the obvious and put up a big sign with "550" on it--the number of detainees we currently have stashed away at Gitmo beyond any effective rule of law.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of hitting it out of the park -- primo post.

7:35 PM  

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